The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie and Chief Executive Officer of Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), Dr Stephen Gumley strongly reject claims in today’s press alleging wide spread issues with soldiers’ combat clothing and equipment.
The allegations concern the acquisition process within Defence for the procurement of clothing and equipment, also claiming that Army has not dealt with issues of concern, placing soldiers at risk.
“I want to reassure our soldiers, their families and the Australian public, that the inferences in this article are not accurate. Indeed in nearly a decade of warfighting our training and our equipment have protected our people and saved many lives,” said General Gillespie.
Both General Gillespie and Dr Gumley openly reject the claim that ‘hundreds of complaints by soldiers about their gear have not been acted on by the Defence bureaucracy’ as simply unfounded.
“Since the 2006 Clothing Review, Defence has supplied approximately five million items of clothing and personal equipment each year ranging from buttons and bootlaces to body armour. All soldiers have the ability to report on their equipment and from January 2007 there have been 59 Reports on Defective or Unsatisfactory Materiel (RODUMs) on personal combat equipment including load carriage equipment, body armour and boots from the Middle East Area of Operations. Contrary to today’s, article all of these have been acted upon,” Dr Gumley said.
General Gillespie said to maintain the ongoing safety and quality of our combat equipment and clothing, Army works closely with the DMO to respond to complaints and to continuously review the clothing and equipment needs of our personnel.
“An inquiry held into the death of Corporal Mathew Hopkins, found that the gunshot wound Corporal Hopkins sustained was fatal and that the body armour worn by Corporal Hopkins was not a contributing factor in his death.
“Contrary to media reports, Army has responded to feedback from soldiers deployed on operations, and I can advise that a decision was made at a specifically convened Army battle worthiness board to increase the modularity of the currently used Body Armour System by providing the option for a lighter ballistic plate.
“Trials of this new equipment are currently underway and shows that Defence is both responsive to and treats seriously issues raised by our deployed soldiers.” said General Gillespie.
“There is no more important task for DMO than to ensure the provision of safe, fit for purpose, high quality clothing and personal equipment to the men and women of the ADF. Soldiers are able to raise equipment concerns through a well-established reporting process. Where issues are identified, these are acted upon swiftly,” said Dr Gumley.
Soldiers across Army are strongly encouraged to raise any concerns through their chain of command, the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army or defective or unsatisfactory materiel reports. This feedback is used to identify defective items as well as to provide suggestions for capability enhancements. Furthermore, operational commanders are routinely posted from the field back into the Army and Defence Headquarters in order to ensure that their expertise is captured and for them to shape Army’s current and future equipment and training requirements.
The procurement of clothing and equipment underwent significant reform as a result of the 2006 ADF Clothing Review. The review made 29 recommendations along five themes of organisational reform, governance and probity, business process, industry and commerce and involvement of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO). These recommendations have all been implemented over the last couple of years.
Clothing procurement reforms have included greater procurement planning, inventory management and staff training to broaden and deepen staff technical and core skills. These actions ensure the men and women of the ADF receive the highest standard clothing and equipment available.
The ADF provides safe, fit for purpose, high quality clothing and personal equipment to the men and women of the Australian Defence Force,” said General Gillespie.
Media contact: Defence Media Liaison: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664
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